One of the astonishing things about this election cycle is the way in which evangelicals who should know better have flocked to a candidate who is a notorious and unrepentant womanizer, made a fortune by preying on human weakness (gambling), insults his political opponents contrary to the teaching of Christ (Matthew 5:21-26), regularly uses language the Bible condemns, and has never apologized to God for any of it.
This is a man who can’t stop praising the “great work” that Planned Parenthood does and thinks that abortion only represents about 3% of what it does. He thinks an appeals court judge who upheld partial birth abortion is a “brilliant” jurist who would make a “phenomenal” Supreme Court justice. He promised a lesbian activist that special rights based on sexually deviant behavior would make “forward motion” in his administration.
This makes the enthusiastic public support Dr. Robert Jeffress and Pat Robertson have shown for Donald Trump difficult to explain, and likewise the explicit endorsement of Jerry Falwell, Jr. All of this is baffling from an evangelical perspective.
I have enormous affection and admiration for Dr. Jeffress, who was a classmate of mine in seminary. He has been a frequent guest on my radio program, and I’ve admired the way he has defended our values as a contributor on Fox News. I consider him a good friend.
But I’m afraid I must question his judgment when it comes to Mr. Trump, and what his support might suggest regarding his larger view of evangelical involvement in public policy.
Here is what Dr. Jeffress said in a February 28, 2016 interview on NPR (emphasis mine):
“I think many evangelicals have come to the conclusion we can no longer depend upon government to uphold traditional biblical values. Let's just let government solve practical problems like immigration, the economy and national security. And if that's all we're looking for government to do, then we don't need a spiritual giant in the White House. We need a strong leader and a problem solver, hence many Christians are open to a secular candidate like Donald Trump.”
Robert clarified on my radio program that he was only making an observation about why evangelicals other than himself support Trump and was not indicating his agreement with them.
The difficulty here, then, is that perhaps Robert has a duty to challenge this kind of thinking rather than accommodate himself to it. If evangelicals indeed now accept that government should operate guided by mere pragmatism rather than moral principle, Robert might be better served to confront the shallowness of this thinking rather than to support the candidate that exemplifies it.
If government’s most important role is to protect human life, which it is, then abortion is not just a moral issue but a political one. It cannot be abandoned to “secular candidate(s)” who do not share God’s reverence for unborn human life.
If moral and not secular principles should guide public policy on abortion, then what about marriage and family matters? Should secularists be allowed, without a fight, to define marriage contrary to God’s time-honored definition, as long as Christians who disagree are silenced in a pragmatically efficient manner?
What about other matters of human sexuality? Should we allow men to use our daughters’ locker rooms as long as schools or public swimming pools are run smoothly?
What about religious liberty? Do we allow Christian bakers to be fined $136,000 as long as the secular government that punishes them does so in a pragmatically efficient way?
Here are some questions that remain for Robert. What will he say if the candidate he has supported signs the Equality Act, which will effectively criminalize Christianity? What will he say if Trump nominates judges like his sister to the Supreme Court who support abortion on demand and the radical homosexual agenda? What will he say if Trump supports funding Planned Parenthood at 97% since he mistakenly believes that only 3% of what Planned Parenthood does is abortions?
It would be one thing if there were no alternatives in the race. But there are other candidates who would bring both the Bible and the Constitution with them into the Oval Office, while there seems to be a chance that Mr. Trump would bring neither.
The clergy in the biblical era knew that all political authority comes from God. They publicly graded politicians on one basis and one basis only: did the political leaders of their day use God’s delegated authority to do that which was good in the eyes of God or that which was evil? We need evangelical clergy today to do the same.